31 August 2015

Neapolitan Macarons

It seems sad to say that September is upon us, the summer holidays are over and the kids are heading back to school. And we didn't really get a summer... the weather just never happened. 

One of my favourite  summer memories from home is having a treat after dinner. My Mom used to make us floats; a scoop of vanilla ice cream dumped into a glass of red lemonade. Old school fizzy lemonade, that had crazy amounts of sugar in it. And all manners of E numbers and colouring that are surely not allowed today. The kind that marked a big red ring around your lips. The ice cream fizzed up and this foamy top appeared. It became this tangy, sweet concoction and we loved it. It's one of those memories that, however simple it is in today's terms, is very special. 

Then there were those times when we went out for dinner. Desserts in restaurants were always so much more luxurious than those at home. Kids menus used to have trio's of ice cream, served in a tall glass with cream and cigarellos. I loved it when the waitress would ask you to choose your flavours after she listed them out. That to me was the epitome of swanky... I can choose more than just vanilla?? WOW!

I always chose neapolitan. 

I knew way back then that my sweet tooth was something I'd grow into and put to good use. I knew the restaurants that made their own ice cream, or brought in expensive ice cream as opposed to bog standard tub stuff. I liked to watch how ice cream melted against the wall of the glass. A good ice cream would leave a thick creamy smudge and not wipe of clean when you licked it. If I were lucky, there would be a ripple of chocolate fudge, or flecks of chips in the chocolate. It would be heaven.

As I've grown my tastes have clearly broadened. I still find neapolitan childishly decadent, and will indulge in it purely nostalgically but then.. given my penchant for baking (and procrastibaking) I can also make it into something, nay, anything else I want!!

Neapolitan Macarons

4 aged egg whites (Leave them covered over in a bowl on your counter over night- up to 24 hours.)
100g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
280g icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon strawberry essence
squirt pink food gel, or splash of pink food colouring
2 tbsp coco powder

Start with a clean, grease free mixing bowl and an electric mixer. 

On a high speed, whip your egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue whipping the egg whites on a high speed and start pouring the caster sugar into the mixing bowl. I start off with a slow and steady stream and stop after 1/3 has gone in. I let it whip for a while and start again, adding another 1/3 and then stopping pouring sugar. Repeat for the third batch. 

Continue whipping for a further 3-4 minutes until your egg whites form a thick and glossy stiff peaked meringue. 

Sieve together the icing sugar and ground almonds into a large bowl and discard any large lumps or bumps you found were too big to go through the sieve. 

Taking a spatula, fold the egg whites into the almond, dry mixture. Just a couple of folds at first. You need to them split your mixture in half. To half the mixture add the coco powder and to the other add the strawberry essence and pink food colouring.

Fold both your mixtures separately until fully combined. Remember: your aim now is to squash out any air in the meringue. You can be rough with your folds, just make sure to keep folding through, making sure all the dry mix has been incorporated into the meringue. Continue to the  “thick ribbon” consistency. Essentially that means the mix almost falls back on itself in around 10 seconds.

Line a few baking trays with parchment, and using your template, pipe circles onto the tray. I use a silicone macarons mat as a guide, under my parchment paper to pipe my macarons shells to size.

Holding your tray about a foot off above the counter top or table you are working at... drop it! Repeat this procedure a few times to pop any air bubbles left in your shells and allow the circles to settle. 

Now leave the shells to rest so that they form a skin and have become dry enough on the outside that you can lightly touch them.  This process could take up to an hour. (TIP: Leave them in a warm part of your house, like the windowsill where the sun is shining in.. they’ll be dry in no time!)

Preheat your oven to 130’. Once the macarons are ready for the oven,  pop them in for 8 minutes. After the 8 minutes, insert a wooden spoon into the oven door to keep it a little bit open. Continue baking for another 4-6 minutes until the top of the shell is crisp and if you wiggled it, gently, from side to side it should be one piece!

Remove from the oven onto a cooling tray and cool completely before filling. Continue baking whatever other shells are left in the same way. 

I filled these little confection perfections with my badass buttercream. That became the middle vanilla filling of the 'ice cream'. None of the flavours over power each other. They just come together in bite size morsels of mmmm...

You could of course, fill it with actual vanilla ice cream. But then.. lazy here went with frosting.

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  1. How much delicious fun do these look!!!!! xx p.s. loving that you seem to be loving your new blog so much and are posting regularly!!! So good to hear from you! xx

    1. Thank you Amy! I am so delighted that you stop by... I love this new blog. It is very me, and I have a very clear vision here. I know where I want this to go and am enjoying the journey so far! Hazel xxx

  2. I was in a cafe with my 10 year old nephew last week and he had a coke float. I was so jealous, I haven't had one for years and I used to love them! I don't often see them in cafes so I think I'm going to have to head back there and get one just for me :-)

    These macarons are so cute, I love the idea of the neapolitan flavours (such a classic combination). Macarons are my current baking nemesis but I'm determined to figure them out.

    1. They are a nemesis alright Charlotte.. But when you crack them (and even I don't think I am fully there yet) the feeling is glorious!

      Coke floats were such a big deal in my childhood.. we got coke on very special occasions. But I can't stand the taste now.. so enjoy your one for me too! For nostalgia!

  3. Hazel, your macarons look absolutely delicious! Stunning food styling.

    1. Ah thanks!! I thought it was very fitting! X

  4. Wow, these are so pretty! And such a great idea. I used to love neapolitan ice cream as a kid.

    1. My favorite too.. three flavours instead of one! Yum!

  5. Hello! The number of egg whites seems to be missing from your recipe?

    1. Eeep! Thank you so much Laura for that.. I have fixed that problem now! There should have been a 4 there :( Hazel x


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